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“The first release was ‘Honey’, and I feel like some of the tracks 
are more accessible,” she considers. “I think ‘Honey’ is that sort of track that artists might like, where ‘Smoke Signals’ is more instantly accessible and fast and bright. I do my writing in a very de-constructed way where I’ll rave for a while, a topic will come up, and then I’ll look at how other artists have responded. From there I’ll look at imagery and really feed it around – and we made the album in exactly the same way. I didn’t take any finished concepts into the studio; it was made musically exactly how I wrote the songs. I think any good artist – whatever they produce – is always going to be reflected by who they are, it’s going to be part of their own voice. Growing up in Wollongong I saw some pretty rough things happen. And in some ways it was just a country town, but it gave me a lot of confidence. The community there is part of who I am. And it’s definitely given me a sense of humour,” she laughs.


Though it may be drawing a long bow, the journey from a coastal NSW city to the capital of Victoria certainly bridges some significant environmental 
and cultural shifts, and listening to the depth of 
Self Talk, there are certainly many influences at work. In the past Olympia has spoken of some of her literary influences – Dorothy Porter, Peter Carey – but throughout her debut, I am more reminded of the colour and complexity of the magical realists, of Murakami, of Marquez.


“You should definitely relate me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in an interview!” She laughs. “I don’t actually know how much [other writers] influenced me. I think it just felt like I was at a party and there are other people in the room and you’re just kicking around other ideas. I’ve never tried to copy anyone. But see now and again, like when I was writing ‘Honey’, I remember thinking, well, how did other writers respond to what I’m trying to say? I came across some of Dorothy Porter’s work about a creek, and I don’t know if influence is the word for it … I sort of feel like poets have written songs better than songwriters have. They can say so much more than we can in so little form, and it’s such a dirty form these days. But while I was writing this, I really looked at poetry just to kick myself in the arse and make it better.”


“I think sometimes bad things happen to good people as well as good things, and so there are a lot of observations on the record that are not necessarily saying this is bad or it should change and should be more like this. It’s more a set of observations.”


To kick-start the album tour, Olympia has recently released the music video for ‘Smoke Signals’, and it’s certainly a memorable affair. It is impressionistic and non-linear, like the kind of dream you’d have after falling asleep at dawn after a disco in 1979. It makes one wonder if the odd collage of sights it presents might not translate across into the actual lyrics; if Olympia’s writing is not so much grounding us in a narrative as they are conjuring impressions?


“That’s an interesting perspective. I think the songs are kind of about someone’s internal and external pay-off, where sometimes what we tell ourselves is different to what really is. [Like] someone’s fantasies becoming confused with reality. I did talk to Alex [Orlando], the filmmaker about this story that I really love, which is about a Japanese contestant in a game show where he is locked in an apartment that is completely empty, but there’s a coffee table with magazines and his completely naked and he has to live on the supplement prizes of food and clothing. And they told him it’s not going go live, it’s just a pilot, we don’t know what’s going to happen with it. And of course it goes live immediately, and he is an absolute national sensation and they put an animated eggplant over his you know genitals, you just kind of watch him go crazy. He’s emancipated, he’s starving, but that’s kind of Alex’s inspiration for the clip as well. I absolutely adore and respect Alex the director; it’s completely nuts that he made this clip for us. Any ideas he had, I gave him the freedom to do them, and I think what we have here is amazing. This whole thing is really just so exciting.”


Self Talk is out now via EMI. For details, head to olympiamusic.com.au.


Tour Dates

May 26 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW
June 3 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane QLD
June 4 – Sol Bar, Maroochydore QLD
June 11 – Producers Bar, Adelaide SA
June 18 – NSC, Melbourne VIC
June 24 – Amplifier, Perth WA

June 25 – Odd Fellow, Fremantle WA